Market Halls, the company which operates three of the biggest food halls in the U.K., has announced that its sites on Oxford Street, in Victoria, and Fulham will remain closed. It will now begin the process of redundancy for all staff having concluded that there is no viable path to reopening with social distancing rules in place.
A statement sent to Eater this afternoon says that ongoing uncertainty and a loss of shoppers and workers from London means that the indoor food markets will remain closed until further notice.
Due to the ongoing uncertainty around when government will withdraw social distancing, and when workers and shoppers will return to London in higher numbers, Market Halls has made the difficult decision that all its sites will remain closed while social distancing remains. As a consequence it is starting a consultation process of redundancy with staff.
Market Halls would not answer a question put to it by Eater on the number of staff affected by this decision.
Chief executive, Andy Lewis-Pratt did say in a statement that it was “heartbreaking to see our business brought to its knees by COVID-19 and the ongoing uncertainty around how we get back to normal.”
He added that he was “desperately sorry for my employees and the independent food traders that make our Market Halls Family so special. We will support them as much as we can and continue to explore all possible opportunities to get us going again.” He insisted that Market Halls “will reopen.”
However the company could not say with any certainty when that time would come. The business was only viable when “bustling with customers,” Lewis-Pratt said. His view was that social distancing “needs to have been withdrawn and workers and shoppers back in the city” before Market Halls could consider returning. The logical conclusion to draw from this is that it will reopen only if and when a vaccine is found and distributed. The company did not say for how long it was permitted to occupy the three premises where it is located or if it had retained their leases…